Monday, December 26, 2016



While excavating in the east corner of the Sussex County jail lot on the 31st

of July, 1902, prisoners on special duty unearthed a skull and a number of bones

which are said to be those of Patty Cannon, notorious slave trader, who had lived

on the Maryland & Delaware state line at Johnson's Cross Roads, Sussex county.

She was located in the Sussex county Jail after being convicted of murder

in the early part of the last century. A few days before her set execution she

died, supposedly from self administered poison. There is no doubt the bones

are hers as she was the only person on record of ever being buried in the jail


The skull and bones are on exhibit in the office of Lawyer James A. Marsh

and scores of people have been attracted there to see them.

SOURCE; Wilmington Evening Journal , Friday, August 1, 1902, page 2.

Friday, December 23, 2016



The schooner A. B. Marts, Captain Steelman, arrived February 13 from
Apalachicola, Florida, bringing Captain Smith, one passenger, and seven of the crew of the schooner Rebecca M. Walls of Philadelphia, which was abandoned at sea, February 6, in latitude 32.25, longitude 79.

Saved with Captain Smith, were Mate James Emory of Lynn, Massachusetts , Second Mate Willett Roberts of Portland, Maine, Steward James Cole of Manilla and Seamen David Lundquist, Louis Gabrielson, Harry Olsen of Norway, Walter Harrison of England,. F. A. Phelps of New Haven, Connecticut was a passenger from Brunswick.

Captain smith reports that he left Brunswick February 1 for Philadelphia with cargo 432,000 feet of lumber for the Pennsylvania Railroad, consigned to William A. Lloyd Company.

A moderate gale blew prior to February 4 on which day at 4 am the pumps showed there was no water in the vessel but to the surprise to the crew , all of the schooner, there was four feet of water in the hold at 9 am. The whole crew manned both pumps but at noon the was six feet and water was gaining seven inches per hour up to 9 pm. The vessel than filled and waterlogged, taking a list to port. The cabin flooded and only a few hard biscuits and a little bit of water was saved as all hands took to the top of the house to await rescue.

It was not until 5 am on the 6th that a vessel was seen and Captain Smith lighted a torch and was rewarded by seeing the vessel bearing down upon the Walls, by daylight the same vessel was sighted seven full miles away and was soon out of sight to the eastward.

The Rebecca Walls crew was able to get a small canvas up on the Walls taking her on a west northwest by west course during which were seen two schooners to the eastward but too far away for signals to be seen. At 2 pm a steamer was sighted about four miles off, an ensign with the union down was raised but caught no attention. The Walls crew began to lose faith but later the day a four masted and a three masted schooner were sighted, the burgee was hoisted on the Walls and the the three master , which was the Marts, bore down on Captain Smith and took off all hands after their two days on the sinking schooner.

Later, a day or two, the Walls was reported as being off Charleston Bar, waterlogged and abandoned, then subsequently towed inside the bay for wrecking. Henry D. May, & Company of Philadelphia are owners of the Rebecca M Walls which was built in Milton, Delaware in 1879.

Source: Wilmington Delaware Evening Journal , Tuesday February 14, 1893.



John Walls, a well known fish dealer of New Castle has on the lapel of his

coat a unique emblem in the shape of an Indian Head, and thirteen eagle feathers.

The design is worked on copper and is emblematic of the freedom of the

American people and is original with American Indians. It was given to a male

Indian youth as he became of warrior age and signified he was 'free' as the Eagle.

Source: Wilmington Evening Journal, 5 May 1900, page 2, Saturday.



John Walls, a well known fish dealer of New Castle has on the lapel of his

coat a unique emblem in the shape of an Indian Head, and thirteen eagle feathers.

The design is worked on copper and is emblematic of the freedom of the

American people and is original with American Indians. It was given to a male

Indian youth as he became of warrior age and signified he was 'free' as the Eagle.

Source: Wilmington Evening Journal, 5 May 1900, page 2, Saturday.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016



Upon the beginning of the Civil War, Sussex county farmers began to prosper, shipyards were busy, and 'hard' money became so scarce that merchants found it necessary to use what was called 'shinplaster' for use as small change in business transactions as a circulating medium when small coins went out of circulation.

“Shinplasters”, were pieces of paper money of small denomination’s with no coin value nor bank backing. Just a slip of paper with a figure of value written on it. They were issued by private persons, merchants, and firms, as a form of fractional currency. “A small papernote uses as money, a promise to pay a small sum without legal security during the 1837 financial panic and the 1861 Civil War, when metal for minting was scarce.
These slips were a nuisance, easily counterfeited , soiled , lost or destroyed by use. After 1878 they vanished with the passage of the Bland Allison Silver Act.

Source: Wilmington Evening Journal October 1, 1915, E.J. Edwards, The Alexandria Louisiana, Town Talk, Rochester New york , Democrat & Chronicle, and Handcock's History of Sussex County

Thursday, November 24, 2016

1943 Wagamon Feed Mill Fire

AUGUST 4 1943

Fire of an undetermined origin early this morning destroyed the four story Diamond State Roller Mill with an estimated loss of $125,000 and three injured firemen, one seriously.
Vonel Banning suffered sever burns of the arms and body , less seriously hurt were Victor Spencer, the fire chief, and fireman Sam Hearn.
The feed mill is operated by Henry C and William B. Wagamon.

Elmer Hastings, farmer living near the mill, discovered the fire at 4 am, but by the time the fireman could get there the flames were unable to be checked, however, were able to save three other structures containing feed and poultry equipment. The mill contained modern machinery to manufacture floor, all types of dairy, hog and poultry feed and a large inventory in storage. . Also lost were 2000 bushels of wheat, 1000 pounds of corn, eight tons of dried milk. It served a wide area of farms.

Milton firemen were assisted by Ellendale, Lewes, Georgetown and Milford. Heat of the burning building was so intense firemen could not get within 50 yards with water hose. Sparks flew about the town and firemen stood by to prevent other fires from starting.

The original mill was built in 1901 by Daniel Wagaman and Curtis Wagamon , with additions made in 1926 and 1937 and was one of the largest and oldest feed mills in the state.

Wilmington Morning News, August 5 1943

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Woolton Hall On The Delaware

Woolton Hall, the beautiful mansion overlooking the Delaware River, recently purchased by William duPont from the Conroy heirs is being remodeled at great  outlay by its new owner.  A new wing has been added to the structure giving a fine architectural effect to the stately mansion.  New stables have been erected. The grounds and mansion have been furnished with electric.  A grand garden has been artistically laid out, the mansion is to be fitted with modern plumbing and appliances .

Monday, November 21, 2016

Lewes Delaware WW II Air Raid Wardens


Wardens under the Civilian Defense Corps of Lewes to serve five sectors in the town zone and out lying districts including nearby small communities have been appointed by Chief Air Raid Warden W. Herald Brittingham.

Plans also have been made to cover any possible disaster, including evacuation. A 'clearing house', mainly for casualties, was made for any possible disaster including, evacuation.

The five sector wardens for the town are; Glenwood Harrington, Howard Green, Daniel Littletown, Captain Irvin Maull. Roland D. G. Raught has been appointed warden of the Kimmey Town section of Lewes, Clarence Spencer for Murrays Corner, Louis Wolfe for Carpenters Corner, Alton Brittingham for Quakertown, W. H. 'Zip' Rice at Westcoats Corner, Pearl Baylis for Five Points, Stephen Hudson for Coolspring and Conrad Roach for Nassau.

Cool Spring Grange Community Hall , located three miles out of Lewes, will be set up as a 'clearing and assembly station' for sever casualties with physicians in attendance. At this station injured persons will be diagnosed, treated and routed to hospitals.

Ernest S. Ratledge was appointed evacuation chief to replace Thomas Arterbridge who has been recalled to service in the Army.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Delaware's Railroad's 1827 - 1996

1827 - 1996
Railroads in Delaware, as in all America, developed in the late 1820's as a rapid, all weather, transportation alternative, which also fostered community development away of the cities and waterways.

The Delaware Railroad, established in the late 1850's opened southern Delawares farm markets to the populated cities. They located well inland away from the colonial villages set on navigable waterways , nearer the bay.
Kent county's Felton, was one of many towns that grew with the railways.

Early Delaware railways would link major eastern cities with a reliable
year around network.

The New Castle & Frenchtown Turnpike, opened in 1811, is considered the first road system, connecting Cecil county Maryland's Elk River to New Castle on the Delaware which greatly improved transportation between Baltimore and Philadelphia. In 1830 it became a railroad and was a success until 1843 or about and became part of the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore, part of Wilmington & Susquehanna Railroad System. The western most nine miles were abandoned in 1857.

The NC&F was at first a horse drawn railway which quickly went to steam in its success. .

The PW&B, formed in 1840, brought to Wilmington key suppliers to the railroad industry, such as, Betts, Pusey & Harland, aka Harland & Hollinsworth, well known for their railroad car factory. Other's were Diamond State Iron, Lobdell Wheel Company, Jackson & Sharp. Repair shops opened there in 1865. It dominated Delaware railroading the next 45 years offering fast, dependable, all weather transport between Washington, DC and New York.

Still, poor management, engineering mistakes threatened the existence. . New management, replacing the rail with heavier tracks , improved locomotives and cars and better service so that in 1850 the PW&B was still a factor.

This success gave thought in 1836 and 1847to linking to downstate and Delmarva, but financing was not available. Waterways remained the primary means of downstate transportation. In 1852 the State stepped in, helped by the duPont Family, with money for Delaware Railroad. 1855 saw the operation of the Delaware Railroad Division of the PW&B .

The Delaware Division choose to route on the western side of the state, bypassing the established seaport towns , leaning an eye toward the Maryland's Eastern Shore. Dover was reached by 1856 and Seaford by the end of the year. In 1859 the railroad was at Delmar, a new railroad town, and connected with the Maryland Eastern Shore Railroad.

This railroad improved transportation to market for lower Delaware farm and forest products. Towns of Cheswold, Felton, Viola, Wyoming, Harrington, Greenwood, Seaford and Delmar grew in to shipping points for lumber, peaches, melons and fresh spring fruits and vegetables.

With the main north and south line complete and successful, attention was turned to branches. 1869 saw the Junction & Beakwater from Harrington to Lewes in operation. 1878 found Rehoboth at its last station bringing hundreds of vacationers each summer. 1874 Georgetown to Selbyville was completed. In 1883 the railroad was named Delaware, Maryland & Virginia, DM&V. Branches ran from Smyrna to Oxford, Maryland, Townsend to Massey and Centerville, Seaford to Cambridge.

After the Civil War railroads were reaching all corners of America. It was the country’s big business. In 1869 there were 30,000 miles of track, in 1900 there were 200, 000 miles and they became more standardized. A standard gauge of four feet, eight and one half inch was accepted. Upgrading to heavier structure and equipment, steel instead of wood., was the major project.
The railroad became the dominant form of transportation.
Beside the PW&B, there became the B & O, and Pennsylvania in the Washington to New York corridor. The B & O purchased the PW&B in 1881 but Pennsylvania offered a higher price and gained control of Washington to New York lines. So now Delaware Railroad was part of the Pennsylvania system. The B & O was a parallel competitor during the 1890 era, linking many other railroads in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and New York – New England area.


A number of other railroads were founded in Delaware, the Wilmington & Northern, Pennsylvania & Delaware, Baltimore & Delaware Bay, The Maryland, Delaware & Virginia, which were smaller players serving local needs as feeders.

Wilmington & Northern, Birdsboro, Pennsylvania to the Delaware River through Wilmington, began in 1866, brought coal to the Wilmington docks. Eventually going to Reading in 1874, it soon became the Reading Railroad in 1899.

Pennsylvania & Delaware , 1869, ran from Pomeroy Pennsylvania to the wharfs at Delaware City, and soon spun off into the Newark & Delaware and the Pomeroy and Newark.

The Delaware peach growing industry in late 19th century, spawned several minor lines . In 1879, Jay Gould of the Southern RR of New Jersey bought tracks from Pierson's Cove at Bombay Hook to Chestertown, with a ferry from Bombay Hook to Bayside, New Jersey. 1902 it merged with Delaware Railroad. The Queen Anne's Railroad was opened 1898 from Love Point, Maryland to Lewes, through Greenwood, Ellendale and Milton, in 1902 became Pennsylvania, and sold out in foreclosure by 1923. This railroad had significance between 1897 and 1931 as the main way to get vacationers from Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia to Rehoboth Beach.
1881 -1945

Pennsylvania Railroad was the railroad. Clayton became Delaware's largest railroad center with offices and shops. It was the largest land holder and tax payer in the state, a key political player. Much of the system was doubled tracked. New York, Philadelphia & Norfolk, NYP&N, carried trains across the Chesapeake Bay to the large port of Norfolk. Southern produce, vegetables, fruits, tobacco, cotton, oysters, became common in New York and Boston markets. This brought Kent and Sussex counties alive with their peaches, melon and strawberries. The food processing industry was much benefited and the area had many canneries. Starting in 1902 the railroad upgraded, bridges elevated tracks, stations, freight yards, and four track systems.

The B & O found it necessary to follow suit. The viaduct over the Brandywine in 1910, 1920 the Augustine bridge and the Wilsmere Yards.

Electrification began in 1910, first under the New York city rivers. New Jersey railroads following the trend, gave high speed track service to the railroad. 1928 and after the New Deal WPA made improvements available and electrified high speed passenger and freight service was the norm. The network of overhead electric wire was called 'catenary'.

1917 – 1946 profits, government regulated pticing structures became a problem. Competition of trucks and automobiles, the highway development, cut into the railroads monopoly. Passage of the Federal Highway Act of 1916, and entry into WWI exacerbated railroad woes.
They reorganized, cut expendables but the automobile was moving ahead. The Depression worsened the situtation. Then came WWII, troop movements, decreased coastal ship activity and automobile travel restrictions, thrust transportation burdens back to the railroad.

This was found to be short lived. The industry was physically in sorry shape by WWII's end. The system was punished by deferred maintenance, lack of replacement parts, for the tracks and equipment. Improved highways and the truck industry taking a large percent of business, air travel increase , left the railroad with no place to go but down and out.

1956 saw the end of a monopoly. Delaware removed one of the two tracks. Trucks using the 'piggyback' system for longhaul and cross country shipping did some help to keep railroads alive. There are positives to the railroad existence, such as, the railroad location in the establishment of the Newport General Motors plant and the Newark Chrysler plant.
Mergers brought the Chessie System in 1960's, Penn Central. 1970 Congress created Amtrac. Conrail and CSX came about in 1980. Deregulation with the Staggers Act allowed an improved climate for the railroad business which allows the ownership of other types of transportation such as barges and auto truck lines.
Today, the railroad continues to be an important player in Delaware economy. Amtrak carries a heavy passenger load, Conrail and CSX transport freight. The CSXT line carries Conrail & Norfolk Southern, Canadian Pacific with freight from outside the Diamond State. Conrails Indian River Secondary Track serves to Frankford. Maryland & Delaware, an independent railroad of the Snow Hill Shippers Association , Townsend & Chestertown, Seaford to Cambridge, Georgetown to Lewes, old Breakwater and Junction, are on line with trains every now and then. .

Wilmington & Western, a private owned tourist attraction , runs through Red Clay Valley, Wilmington to Hockessin. Delaware Valley Railroad, the old Wilmington & Northern & Reading Railroad is a bridge route to Pennsylvania shippers .

Source: “Delaware's Railroad's, 1827 – 1996” is an abstract of an WWW Internet site , perhaps on line at the University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware.

Friday, November 18, 2016



Delaware's first newspaper was inspired by the publishing success of Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia.
James Adams, who had learned the printing trade at Londonderry, Ireland, emigrated to Philadelphia at an early age, became a printer under Franklin & Hall.
In 1760 he left this famous printing partnership and set up his own business but the competition was too great and the young Irishman failed. Remember that Philadelphia was at that time the printing center of the new country.
Having heard that there was no printer down the Delaware in Wilmington , in 1761 he published a 'letter' titled “Proposal For Printing A Newspaper”, which received so much encouragement and offers of backing, that he moved his heavy and clumsy Franklin Press, type and all, to Wilmington, and set out the first issue of the “Wilmington Chronicle”, a weekly, requiring long working hours at night to get the paper, each sheet a piece of individual skill, into homes early morning on time.
To print, type was laid out on a flat surface, covered with ink, then a sheet of paper was laid across the 'bed of type' , pressed and removed, one side of each sheet at a time.

The “Chronicle” was not a paying venture and was discontinued after a six month period. But, Adams, continued as the only Wilmington printer, printing many of the Colonial Government publications, religious pamphlets and books. The publication of a yearly Almanac and a business selling and binding books, dealing in paper products, other writing necessities, kept him as the only Delaware until 1775.
In 1789, with his eldest son as a partner, the published “The Delaware & Eastern Shore Advertiser” . As the other sons grew of age they came into the business and when Adams died in 1792, they took the business over.
The elder Adams was greatly esteemed and the family were the outstanding publishers of early Delaware publishers of early Delaware .
Two sons, Samuel and John, established a printing press in New Castle, and in 1797 the “Laws of Delaware” has their imprint.


Politics was the incentive for another paper in 1799, “The Mirror of the Times”, published by James Wilson, to further the interest of the Federal Party and President John Adams.
This paper was the first to be printed in America on pure white stock, which was a novelty at the time and was produced at the Wilmington mill of Thomas D. Gilprin on the Brandywine.
The Mirror of Times was a semi weekly paper printed out for Wednesday and Saturday on an old Franklin type hand press. Wilson was an editor with energy and ideas but no ability to make profits. He had the problem of collecting. During election time in New Castle he spent the entire day at Captain Caleb Bennetts Tavern with his account books, waiting for subscribers to call on him.


“Christian Repository” was published by Peter Brynberg at 4th and Shipley, ”Federal Ark” made an appearance in 1803 and a literary weekly , “Museum of Delaware” published by Joessph Jows , 1804 to 1810.

Delaware Gazette and Delaware State Journal became the Every Evening in 1822.

Source: Wilmington News Journal, Saturday, October 11, 1930.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016



William duPont who lives near Wilmington, Delaware, has bought the homestead of President James Madison at Montpeller, Orange county, Virginia

The estate consists of 1300 acres and buildings. A force of mechanics employed by duPont from Delaware will be there soon to put the building in repair.

These buildings were erected around 1774 and President Madison spent his last days there.

Mr. duPont has not determined whether he will occupy the property as a residence as he is now living in the handsome homestead recently purchased of the Conrow estate , Woolton Hall on the Delaware river.

A Baltimore man, Louis F. Detrick, was the recent owner of Montpeller.

Saturday, November 12, 2016



1936 Wilmington News Journal
Comments by
Charles Alfred Rudolph, age 70, Wilmington Jeweler.

About 1870, Mr. Rudolph recalled, much of what is now Reboboth Beach , was farm and woodland, purchased by The Rehoboth Campmeeting Association, laid our in lots purchased by Delaware residents and persons living in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

When the sale of lots was going good, the promoters treasury flush, lots were graded, that is top soil removed , there were many Indian relics found. He remembers J. Morton Poole, of Wilmington, bent low, going over these spots, picking up arrowheads and relics.

The avenues and lots were marked by wood stakes, trees were cut and piled to the center of the streets to clear the way. When money ran short, the clearing of the woods was abandoned. And the piles of felled trees remained in the middle of the avenues in huge piles. He, being one of the ten or twelve boys who vacationed here roamed all over the place, playing in the piles of felled trees, one day decided to rid their playland of the obstructions, set a fire at each pile, then left in a hurry.

When the got back to the hotel, they could see much smoke above the tree tops and that the guest were alarmed , thinking Lewes was burning. The Lewes people, it turn, thought Rehoboth was afire. People were running in all directions.

The superintendent of property, Morris Lamborn, gathered a posse, gathering whatever implements were at hand, and kept the fire to the section it started in. The 'boys' went along to help. Brisk winds from the northeast were blowing and the smoke drifted into the Grove, where the campmeeting was in progress which brokeup quickly.

A notice was posted by William Bright, the president, seeking information but no one knew for several years who the guilty ones were. It was decided that the incident saved the association much money by clearing the area and no problem came of it.

Rehoboth lent itself to other pranks as there were no police, it stood off by itself. The first hotel did not escape the attention of pranksters. That was the Surf Hotel. It stood between a small pond and the ocean, where the Henlpen is today. A long barn of a building. Three stories with an attic. It had a porch on either side and pillars to the roof. The halls ran full length of the building and room doors opened into the hall. It was custom to place your shoes in the hall to be shined each night. One night the 'boys' changed up the shoes, leaving 'odds', tied the doors together with clothesline. Seems the 'boys' at that time had a good time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Armstrongs Seadromes



Edward R. Armstrong, of Holly Oak, Delaware, a circus strongman, before he became an able engineer in 1933 or so, with an idea to solve a problem with Trans-Atlantic air flights, being the short distance a airplane could safely fly with a load of people.

He called them Airdromes, sort of an aircraft carrier, or floating platform, big enough to have a 1200 runway or landing strip, service stations, weather and directional station, hotel and restaurant., to be located to serve as stepping stones to overseas point as necessary.

In the 1920's and 1930's fleets of passenger ships carried thousands of vacationers, immigrants and other travelers between America and Europe and made this idea practical. Models were built and tested, approved and read to build and locate, but, the Great Depression came, and funds dried up.

In 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt became President and began to bring the country our of the depression and his Secretary of Commerce, Daniel Roper took notice of Armstrong's idea and announced the PWA would begin a 1.5 million dollar project, in the shelter of the Delaware Breakwater. This meant $6,000,000 and 10,000 construction jobs for the south of Delaware.

Harold Ickes, Secretary of Interior, under Roosevelt, denied the 1.5 million allocation.

Meanwhile, Charles Lindbergh, Igor Sikorsky, Eddie Rickenbacker, and other aviators foresaw the ability to develop long range airplanes and did so.

The construction of Airdromes at Lewes Breakwater was abandoned before the first worker was hired.

Source: Delaware Coast Press, November 9 2016, Michael Morgan, Delaware Diary
Time, November 27 1933 ; “Airports Across The Ocean” Stewart Nelson.

Saturday, November 5, 2016



Ellendale has witnessed the most heroic act by an ordinary man in this country town. His name is David H. Reed and the incident came about in a most remarkable way.

Harry W. Jester has just finished his handsome new home and erected a cedar water tank on a 30 foot high tower in the barn yard from which to furnish running water to home and shed. There is a gasoline engine pump below it to send water up into it. Beneath the tank and its platform is a two foot space containing charcoal to help keep a freeze away. But during a severe period of cold weather the pipes did freeze and Mr Jester had Joseph Ennis, with his blow torch thaw out the pipe, and, set the charcoal afire which only smouldered until the high wind on Thursday. The next anyone saw was a twenty foot high flame all around the water tank and it was quickly seen this had to stopped, and now.

The finest homes and the total town of Ellendale could be wiped out real fast. Everyone was in a panic, the women screaming, men busy removing valuables from the houses, but here came David. He started the gas pump motor, pumped water to the burning tank , climbed the tower, with bucket in hand, and from the pipe threw water on to the flames which were at times catching his coat on fire. Everyone watching calling for hm to come down, stayed with the flames which ceased came down with his coat aflame, covered with a sheet of ice on his face and charred hands, calm as he always was, appearing to be none the worse, but did become somewhat ill, taken home by Uncle Joe Smith for a bit of stimulant and a change of clothing and in a short time was about and chipper as a lark.

Later the evening he was met with many thanks after being recognized as the savior of Ellendale to which he replied, “all in a days work. I have simply done my duty, say no more”.

Source: The pen of the correspondent of the Milford Chronicle.
Wilmington Every Evening, Monday January 17 1910

Thursday, October 27, 2016






In 1983 New Jersey began building a short stretch of State Route 55 over land long ago occupied by American Indians confirmed by state archaeologist. The Lenape Indians had used the tract of land some 3500 years before the birth of Christ until the white man showed up some 5000 years later.

The state denied that the Lenape Indians had ever buried any of their dead there.

Not so said Sachem Wyandaga a Nanticoke Chief and Medicine Man. The day construction began he issued a warning “ Stop vandalizing Native American graves or be punished”. Then he began praying to Ancestors.

A foreman on the construction crew, Charles Shoemaker, told that when Wyandga put a curse on him, his freezer broke down. Shoemaker then developed ulcers and had to leave his job.

Reports by the Press tell that a 34 year old crewman was killed at the site when hit by a dump truck, another, an inspector , fell dead on a brain aneurysm, another healthy workman succumbed with cancer, and a mysterious wind blew a worker off a bridge. Other workmen, some of their families, fell victim to serious ailments. A van carrying five caught fire for no apparent reason.

The construction company, John Rouse & Company, lost millions on the project and almost went bankrupt. A lawyer for Rouse, John Land, said “ I am not superstitious, but if you believe in 'curses', this one sure did the trick” .

Sachem Wyandaga , the name means “chosen one”, is standing next to his pickup camper, looking over a pile of brick, he is about 67 year but not looking so. He is retired and just back from fishing. His fight with the New Jersey Tansportation Department is an example of wide differences that exist between Indians and White Men. Looking at the same thing they see it different. White men look at words on paper and Indians live with logic and oral traditions handed down generation to generation.

It is hard to believe that 'real' Indians live in our midst, they live, dress and behave just like the whites but when together , in buckskins and feathers, form a circle, holding hands and pray to “The Great Spirit” them become like their ancestors or hundred of years ago. Today Wyandaga is sorting blocks and bricks, his second wife, less than half his age, is raking leaves, in the camp ground which is in the middle of a forest near Elmer. He is building a patio as a car drives up. Lighting his pipe he lets the driver know he cannot talk too long as the pation needs to be done. Around his neck is a 'medicine bag' and two others on his belt. He says all 'traditional' Indians ware 'medicine bags' from the day they are born, in the bag is dust from the earth at their birth place, a sliver f gold, silver and maybe copper. Later are added herbs, roots and 'other things' necessary to the health and religion of the wearer. Another bag, he says is his money bag and yes we Indians also need money.

Three feathers are fit in his straw hat which he takes off and shows his shaved. All 'medicine men' shave their heads. Then he lays the feathers in the palm of his hand. Pointing to the feathers he says this one is a turkey feather for the Turkey Tribe. The one in center is a golden eagle feather, and is only allowed to be worn by an Indian. The next on is a guinea hen, it's decorative. Next on the hat is a lock of blond hair, a scalp, and yes I did kill Nazis for it. I earned twelve of them in Europe during WWII.
Last he hands over a necklace of bear claws which he admits the bear gave up under protest.

Still laying the bricks, blocks or whatever, he said that it needs to be understood that the ill fate of the builders of the road not a result of any curse even though the Nanticokes were known for witchcraft and the like by other tribe, curses were not one of the traditions.

When asked it he was sure there were graves, he replied, “here's the thing, there was no Indian village, where, within 500 yards, there was not a burial site, so, anyplace there was a village there was a grave site, I knew this, told them so, and if they destroyed the burials, that I as Chief had not alternative but to call down a curse. They did not listen to me. They laughed. It did not prevent what happened”. Out of breath, he drops the last brick into place and wipes his brow with the outside of his hand as all Indians did.

Wyandaga began his learning the ways of the Shaman from his grandmother when he was five. His father, deceased at the Battle of Blood Creek in south central Pennsylvania in the 1920's, a historically obscure event. From central Pennsylvania he moved to Philadelphia with his mother and grandparents, where he was a shoeshine boy, moving every year or so, to New Jersey, Delaware and back to Philadelphia. When WWII came about he joined the Army Airborne in Germany. While there he studied under the GI Bill, things that struck hid fancy, engineering, theology. Returning to Philadelphia he tried to live like the white man but could not make it work. He tried to reject his Indian heriatge and drank a lot and ended up in a hospital someplace. Calling on the Great Spirit he got the message to go back to the Indian ways. That was 20 year ago. Now, Wyandaga calls himself Chief of the Delaware Nation, 40,000 Indians who make up 12 Tribes.



Tuesday, October 25, 2016



A Nanticoke legend of the Maryland Eastern Shore Tribe accounts for the stunted growth and crooked limbs as such:

“Long ago a chief had four beautiful daughters whose charms he schemed to barter for rich gifts. Suitors far and wide never satisfied the greedy chief.

Finally the Gods, exasperated at his meanness, turned him into a small low tree, with snarled bent branches, and then his daughters into the four white bracts surrounding the tiny cluster of flowers as the gigts the suitors brought.

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sunday, April 18, 1943 AKA&EM

Sunday, October 23, 2016



Smithsonian Institute published this bulletin on the Nanticoke Indians which inhabited Talbot County along the Choptank River in the neighborhood of “The Wilderness” of the Speer Estate where have been found many relics of the Tribes.

This bulletin of the Smithsonian is interesting because it gives authoritatively the history of the Tribes.

Nanticoke, from Nentego, of Delaware Unechtgo, Unalashtgo, “ Tidewater People”, and important Algonquian Tribe who live on the Nanticoke River of Maryland's Eastern Shore. Here is where Captain Smith located their principal village in 1608.

Nanticoke were connected linguistically and ethnically with the Delaware Conoy Tribe. Traditional history is brief and affords but little aid in tracing their movements in prehistoric times.

Tenth Verse of the 5th Song of “The Walam Olum”, translated by Squier; “ The Nentego's and the Shawants wnet to the South Lands”. Here the Shawnee and the Nanticokes are brought together in this verse, it does not necessarily indicate that each separated from the main tribe at the same time and place. This separation appears to have occurred, according to verse 1 “Walam Olum” , in Talega Land, which was most likely now Ohio. Tradition indicates, by Beatty, location South is sme point below the latitude of Pittsburg. Pemmsylvania , but not south of the Kanawha. Another account , given to Heckewelder by old Chief White who said that they being better and great hunters. trappers and fishers, separated from the Delaware League when reaching the eastern seat, wandering on in search of better hunting grounds.

In 1660 the Conoy Tribe Chief informed the Maryland governor of a 'league that had existed for 13 generations with an emperor of Nanticoke lineage embracing all tribes of the province, also the Potomac and as they pretended, even the Iroquoian Conestoga. The Tocwogh and Doag were possibly identical with the Nanticoke.

The Maryland Colony Settlement found the Nanticokes a thorn in their side and were officially declared enemies as early as 1682 until a treaty was composed in 1678. After 1689 reservations were established for them and all was mostly peaceful. 1707 found at least seven villages 1722 the main village was Nanduge with some one hundred residents including the empress. She ruled over all neighboring Indians of near five hundred.

Soon the Nanticokes began moving north, stopping at the Susquehanna and Juniata , then about 1748 the greater part of the tribe moved on up the Susquehanna finally settling under Iroquois protection at Chenango, Chugum, and Owego on the east branch of the Susquehanna in southern New York state where they were about 500 in strength in 1765.

A few Nanticoke remained in Maryland where they lived until 1840, a tribe of 30 or so. Others went west , Ohio and Indiana , and the race disappeared as a distinct tribe. A few, mixed bloods, live on the Indian River in Delaware.

The Nanticoke were distinguished from neighboring tribes by a darker color and peculiar customs, were devoted to fishing and trapping as a means of subsistence . Traditions have it the Nanticoke Tribe invented poisonous substances, practiced witch craft.

The Nanticoke confederacy appears to have included , beside the Naticocks proper, the Arscek, Cuscarwaoe, Nause, Ozinies, and Sampinagh.

There were the following villages; Askimimkansen, Byengehten, Chenago, Conedogwinit, Locust, Necktown, Matchcouchtin, Matcheattochousie, Nanduge, Natahquois, Peixtan, Pekoinoke, Pohecommeati, Teahquois, Witichquasom.


1930 frigid pow wow NANTICOKE INDIANS


Frigid temperatures yesterday caused the Nanticoke Indian Braves to add their Indian blankets to their usual scant costumes at their Pow Wow ceremonies at the Indian River Reservation at Oak Orchard.
Instead of just feathers, war paint, and buckskins, the braves wrapped themselves in colorful blankets to
perform the tribal dances. It was a frosty Thanksgiving picnic enjoyed by thousands of Indians and guest from Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, all shivering and longing for their own Indian blankets. High winds prevented the normally wild council fire for fear of setting neighboring leaves and structures afire.

During the afternoon guest from other reservations arrived ; Lacy Oxendine of the Cherokee's, Kowdelanche Lokotah, Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota, E. A. Roe of the Chippewa, and three students of the Pennsylvania University Research Team, Joseph McFarland, Irving Bird and Phillip Werner.

Nanticoke Chief Sea Gull, aka Ferdinand Clark, the head of those who lives and farms the grounds at the reservation , was master of ceremonies, in a wooded area on the banks of the Indian River at his home. Chief Mawitt, his brother, Robert , who lives in Philadelphia, was his assistant. Their mother, Princess Madacanna, Mrs. Florence Clark, was in charge of the food served at the repast and visiting Indian and guest entertainment. Little Owl, Charles Clark, also assisted in the ceremony’s.

Other notables who were guest of Chief Sea Gull and his mother were; Chief White Horn of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, who lives in Philadelphia, Chief Johnson of the Rappahannock Tribe of Virgina, now living in Baltimore, and Chief War Eagle, Delaware Lenape Tribe of Oklahoma.

Chief Sea Gull declared the Pow Wow was the smallest of attendance since the 1921 Association founding Pow Wow due to the business depression and drought.

Council was held Wednesday night in the Pavillion and held a dance in costume, Thursday, was given to hunting rabbits and quail during the day and the raccoons hunt that night.

This is the first in many years that Professor Frank Speck of the University of Pennsylvania Anthroplogy Department , who was instrumental in bringing about the organization of the Nanticoke Indian Association , was not able to attend.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016


APTIL 1935

Sometimes they call them reptiles when scorpions , salamanders, lizards, were included

in the reports. A red headed 'skink' , whatever that is or was, was thought to be poisonous. The male

fence lizard , a scorpion, was poisonous when its throat was blue, a female, Just a lizard, was not

and children played with them when harnessed in lizard grass nooses. Salamanders were said to be

full of venom and would kill and cats that ate them. Some cat could be saved by feeding it with fat

meat that gave relief to the poison.

The water snake, the hog nose snake, the field viper all were thought to be venomous bu

t were not. The blast racer was the only snake thought not to be poisonous. If a field viper bit itself it

died of its own poison. The copperhead emitted a smell like cucumbers. Black snake skin worn on the

body cured rheumatism. The hoop snake takes its tail by its mouth and rolls like a hoop. A black

snake is thought to suck milk from a cows udder. Hang a dead black snake on a tree branch and it will soon rain.

It was believed that the first spring thunder awoke the snakes from their winter sleep.

When a snake was killed, not long after, its mate come to seek the remains.


APRIL 26 1935

In spite of our civilization there is a great amount of superstition yet today, where such silly beliefs came from is hard to say.

From a study of the Nanticoke Indians it has been found that many beliefs have been handed down to well educated people, who are supposed to have average intelligence, yes, the present inhabitants.

A recent wedding dinner was held off because there were 13 guest were at the table and not served until a neighbor was called in and seated at the table to make fourteen guest.

One did not walk under a ladder suspended against a building.

Silly notions are still believed in by the country people and the following are cures believed in by the Nanticokes; a deerskin necklace kept the whooping cough away, a necklace of red corn prevented a nose bleed as did a dead spider worn around the neck.

A big one was that the seventh born child held the power of magic and had knowledge of the use of medicines and could cast 'spells' on people and animals.

To cure lameness, hang a worm in some sort of container, let it decay, then rub the decayed matter on the lame limbs .

Prevent summer fevers, chew the flower petals of the hepatica (liver) plant in the spring. Colds were cured by brewing and drinking horsemint.

The Calamus root, or muskrat root, made to a tea, was used for the colic. A mother would chew a piece of the root and blew into an infants mouth to stop pain and sooth them to sleep.

Leaves of the Mullein plant, made to a poulace, drenched with vinegar , places on parts of the body, keep the fever away.

The wild indigo leaves and those from poplar trees' brewed' to a lotion which was good for sprains. Pine tar made to a cathartic was also good for sore , sprains, and such.

Relief of rheumatism was had by an eel skin worn around the affected parts.

There were people who had the power to rub away warts, heal cuts with cobwebs and/or soot.

The smoke from tobacco blown into an ear prevented ear ache, also baby’s stomach ache when blown into its mouth.

Prickly Pear relieved inflammation from bites and stings and also removed warts.

Now this is one hard to take, a child with chickenpox could be cured by letting chickens fly over them. I guess they put them in the chicken house to sleep at night.
Page 1

A sore throat can be cured by pressing the jaws as far apart as is possible with the thumbs.

Skunk Cabbage brewed into a tea cured a cold. Got a backache, cut the skin from a live black snake, wrap it around the waist

Frost bite cure. Remove the bladder from a live animal and bind it to the affected area.

Sassafras tea was always drank in the spring to ward off fever and ague, and to cool the blood.

Fish weed and snake roots were chewed or made into tea and drank to get rid of stomach worms

The ringing in the ears was known as 'death bells' and which announced the death of a friend or relative.

New Years Day it was custom for men to visit neighbors, the first man there, received a penny, but, it was ill omen for a woman to visit this day.

Like storks, fish hawks were venerated by the Nanticokes and it was a sin to kill one or disturb its nest which the fish hawks built near the habitations, close to the ground. The birds returned to them year after year. Buzzards were never molested.

When a scorpion lizard got upon a persons body and made the trip around it, that person was soon to die.

A hen that crows is a sign of bad luck and is to be killed. A rooster crowing at the door means a visitor is on their way.

Never pass a closed knife to a person, the knife needs to be opened.

Snake lore is a story all of its own and may appear in another paper later on. Trust me.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Pirate Raid 1747 Delaware River Bombay Hook



A stretch of beach a few miles above Bombay Hook was the scene of a pirate raid in 1747 of two families. Prior to 1790 no coastal area was safe from privateers and pirates that infested the inlets along the coast.

On this lonely strip of beach there were only two houses, James Hart and his family occupied one and a short distance away lived his neighbor, Edmund Liston in the other house. Just after dinner, on 12 July 1747, Liston's little daughter, took one of the little slave girls as a companion and went to the beach, within sight of the house, to catch some crabs. Within a few minutes, fifteen or twenty, Spanish or French landed in an open boat, surrounded the children, took them prisoners, tying the black girl and leaving her at the beach , while they carried white child to the house. Here they found Liston at home, admitting they were pirates, demanding Liston to give them his slaves, together with his money. Fearing the safety of his family he complied with their demands without resistance. The pirates stripped the house of anything they could put in the boat, food, bedding, furniture and closthing.

A mile away, Hart, was also at home, had seen them coming and barricaded his house and gave a fight. QA slave girl who had failed to get into the barricaded house was caught and bound and brought to the house, however, Hart gave fight, and for a while keep the pirates away. However, Mrs Hart had been hit by a musket ball and was bleeding badly and in an effort to save her life, surrendered and opened the door, soon the house was stripped bare. Then Liston and Hart were taken back to the Liston house, saw the loot in the boat, with the slaves tied up among it. The two families were left , unhurt, on the beach shore.

This raid was immediately reported to the Council of Anthony Palmer. Evidently this was the start of our fondness of long and impressive investigations, as several years later, the court records were stuffed with letters and orders directing someone else to do something about it. Since the names of the pirates were unknown, nothing was ever done about the raid.

Sewell P. Moore, Delaware Historical Spots, Wilmington News Journal, 4 Oct., 1930

Sunday, October 16, 2016



Recently the large mansion house which stood at the northwest corner of Third & Jackson Streets, Wilmington, Delaware, was torn down to make room for a church building to be used in combination with St. Pauls Roman Catholic Church which is adjoining,

The house was built by Aaron Conrad in the winter of 1859 and 1860 and occupied in March of 1860 by the Conrad family until the spring of 1869 when the block on which it was built was sold to Bishop Thomas A Becker, the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Wilmington Diocese.

In the year 1855 Aaron Conrad bought a tract of  twenty acres extending from Monroe Street to the East to Van Buren Street to the West, and Front Street on the south to fourth street on the North, which was the Simpson Farm.  The farm buildings standing at that time were on the West side of Jackson Street , at bit North of Second Street. A year or two later there were six or eight small  double two story houses on Second Street, West of Monroe Street, built. At this time there are some of these houses still in original shape. On te South side of of Second  between Adams and Jackson there were built a dozen three story brick houses, several still stand.

In the fall of 1859 the house of our subject was built , a large two and half story brick dwelling,  situated on the whole block of Third and Fourth and Jackson and Van Buren . There was a brick stable, other out buildings and the rest of the block was garden.  Archie Given was the bricklayer and  James Morrison was carpenter, and was built very substantially.

The neighborhood did not improve as it was anticipated and was found that smaller hoses on smaller lots were in more demand that larger homes, so the rest of the twenty acres  was divided into small lots  and sold out rather fully .

A stream of spring water flowed from the west through the twenty acre tract, crossing Jackson between Second and Third,  going eastward to Adams. then flowed south over Second Street, joining another stream from the west.

In 1860 there were no buildings between Jackson and Washington Streets and that tract was a pasture enclosed by post and rail fence. Fourth Street went on for three or four blocks. Fourth and Madison had a few buildings and Third Street was not open west of Jefferson Street.

Public schools number 3 and 4 were in existence under the principal,  Miss Laura Osgood.

Between 1860 and 1870 improvements developed in this territory ,  in 1869 and 1870 St. Pauls Roman Catholic Church was erected ,  New Castle County Alms House was located on Broom Street.

By the son of Aaron Conrad for the Wilmington News Journal  September 20, 1930.



The State of Delaware is rich in Indian lre and relics but the appreciation of these is spoilt for the most of us by the amount of confusion in names and locations. Historian have given different names to the same tribes which is unavoidable since the Indians themselves were known by different names in different languages. One would need to spend an effort of going through histories to make a clear picture of the time of early settlers.

It is necessary to forget the prehistoric people which were driven away by the Indians before the discovery of America. We do not know if they were another nation of Red Man or an entirely different kind of people. First imagine a horde of Red Men swarming East from across the Mississippi which might have been sudden or gradual. They took up the eastern part of Canada and America, except, the south most lands of America. Florida and the extreme southern area were inhabited by an entirely different nation of Indians. Iroqois settled the North and East Canada, a region around the Great Lakes. The southern nation, Algonquins, held the east coast , St Lawrence River to the Carolinas. There was no central control and each nation had many smaller nations. The Algonquins are known to have been a race, other than a nation.

Delaware concerns itself with the Algonquins Nation tribes of Lenni Lenapes, who held territory from Hudson River to the Potomac.Leadership was loose, mostly ruled by Lenni Lenape Chiefs, who were the most intelligent and domestic, the 'original people' , the Grandfathers. This nation was divided into Tribes, much like our States.

Delaware Indians, a name given three tribes of Indians of the region, needs to be forgotten, as it was the name given by the settlers, not the Indians.

Unamis or 'Turtle People' , the most progressive and intelligent of the Lenni Lenape Nation, were fishermen, planters, and hunters, with lands from the junction of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers down to the middle of Delaware on Delaware., the most prominent in Delaware history. They had very little occasion to make war in the territory of Delaware.

The Minsi, or 'Wolf People', friendly with the Unamis, occupied a crescent shaped tract from the northern part of the Delaware River to a tip that spread out in Cecil County Maryland, through to Christiana Creek, surrounding the Unamis. Although little of their territory was in Delaware they were important , being warriors, as guards and protectors to other tribes below them.

The last tribe, Unalachtgoe, 'Turkey People' , on lands now of Kent, Sussex and the rest of the peninsula, were peaceful and domestic, carried on farming and domestic arts to a high development and were good hunters and fishermen. They considered themselves to be a separate nation and divided into smaller tribes with strong leadership.

Source: Wilmington Delaware News Journal Saturday September 20 1930 : Abstract